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Friday, February 5, 2021

Government agencies join hands in restoration of Cagayan River after Typhoon Ulysses; Build Back Better Task Force starts dredging, bamboo planting



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The promise of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte to normalize the lives of Cagayan residents and those in nearby provinces after the onslaught of Typhoon Ulysses was further realized as government agencies pooled resources to restore the Cagayan River.

Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Arthur Tugade joined Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy Cimatu, Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Secretary Mark Villar, and Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary Silvestre Bello III in launching the Cagayan River Restoration project in Lal-lo, Cagayan on Tuesday, 2 February 2021.

The river restoration work is an effort of the 'Build Back Better' (BBB) Task Force which is composed of officials from the DENR, DPWH, DOLE, and the DOTr.

Assisting the task force is the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the local government units of Cagayan Region. The restoration work involves the dredging of the Cagayan River, as a solution to the flooding woes in the Cagayan Valley area, as well as the planting of bamboo, which will not only help stabilize the riverbanks but will also create livelihood for residents, who were displaced by flooding.

Secretary Tugade said the rehabilitation initiative fulfills the promise of President Duterte to the people of Cagayan during his visit in November.

“Kaya nga ‘ho nandirito kami ngayon upang pasinayaan at bigyang katotohanan ang mandato ng Pangulo sa aming apat - to help rebuild Cagayan, to help bring back hope and restore the beauty and glorious past of Cagayan,” Secretary Tugade said.

The Transportation Chief added that aside from the dredging of the Cagayan River, the planting of bamboo will help the residents earn a living over the next few years.

“Kaya nga ba’t i-dredge [ang ilog], kaya nga ba’t magtanim ka ng kawayan, kaya nga ba’t magbigay ka ng kabuhayan, ‘pagkat gusto naming bigyang-katuparan ang pangako ng ating mahal na Pangulo,” Secretary Tugade added.

During the event, Secretaries Tugade and Bello also announced the granting of a P30 million livelihood assistance for Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in the region who were affected by Ulysses.

In January, the two Secretaries distributed fiberglass motorized bancas to 100 fishermen in Claveria, Cagayan and “Negosyo Karts” franchises to 100 ambulant vendor-beneficiaries in Ilagan, Isabela.

Secretary Villar meanwhile assured residents that the government is working as a whole to solve the issue of flooding in the Cagayan region. Focus of the restoration work is the dredging of some 7 million cubic meters of sand from 19 sandbars on the river that cover 235 hectares.

He said dredging of the Cagayan River is only a short-term solution, with the long-term solution involving the construction of diversion channels. Secretary Villar has assured that the diversion channels, as well as other infrastructure projects in Cagayan will be finished before President Rodrigo Duterte ends his term.

“Asahan n’yo po na full support ang DPWH sa ating mga infrastructure programs sa Cagayan,” Secretary Villar, also Vice Chairman of the BBB Task Force, stressed.

For his part, Secretary Cimatu, who serves as chairman of the ‘Build Back Better’ Task Force, highlighted that the government is giving priority to the dredging of the Cagayan River.

“Today we are here on a mission, to reduce the perennial flooding in the region of Cagayan Valley. Our government is taking the matter seriously. The equipment and assets of the government are now ready to start the mission,” the DENR Secretary said.

Dredging equipment from the DPWH have been positioned in the priority areas of Lal-lo, Casicallan Norte and Gattaran, Secretary Cimatu said.

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